Sunday, November 25, 2018

What should the House do? Part 1: Veto-proof actions... then aim for a thousand vetoes

Okay so the Democrats got one half of one-third of the U.S. government. Can they actually do anything, opposed by a GOP-controlled Senate and a White House ruled by a vindictive toddler? In fact there are many possibilities -- some of them (see below) likely to shock and surprise, with judo-like effectiveness -- if only someone gave the new House leadership brain-boost pills. 

That snark is only partly deserved. Nancy Pelosi and her team have already crafted a top priority bill for the 116thCongress. “HR1” will push for many of the electoral reforms I’ll discuss below. Mark Pocan (D-Wi) said that HB1 will reestablish voting rights for all, specifically outlawing the interstate cross check system and removing barriers to being able to cast a vote. 

(HR1 for the 115th Congress was the treasonous Tax Bill that stole from our kids, sent debt skyrocketing, raped the middle class and gifted more than half a trillion dollars to top 0.001% elites, who were supposed to spend it all expanding “supply” through investments in R&D and industrial productive capacity. As with all “Supply Side” promises, this one was instantly broken - most of the largesse went to stock buy-backs, a practice that the Greatest Generation wisely made illegal.)

And yes, oh you lefty purists out there, electoral reform and other process issues are more urgent than futile railings about health care or immigration! You will get nowhere with your agendas unless first we eliminate the cosmic levels of cheating that now warp U.S. elections, especially in every Red State. Everyone in our loose, broad coalition-to-save-America agrees on that. So that has to come first.

Oh, but go ahead and announce your priorities! Like...

== A new “Contract With America”? ==

Senator Bernie Sanders, the sage uncle of the Democratic Party’s left wing (and so much like my own Dad that hearing his voice makes me plotz!) has come out for his party to declare a Progressive version of Newt Gingrich’s brilliant 1994 manifesto – the “Contract With America,” laying down in detail what the party and movement will aim to achieve. 

(I called for something similar in both 2006 and 2017. About 1/3 of Newt’s “contract reforms" were, in fact, reasonable! And hence were dropped the instant Gingrich was replaced by Dennis “friend to boys” Hastert. Most of the rest was pro-feudal service to oligarchs. But polemically the Contract was golden.) 

Benie’s list is about 50% things that all decent and modern/sapient citizens would want! The other 50% are rather socialistic and only feasible if we first get our fiscal house in order. Moreover, we must grit our teeth in expectation that Foxheads will shriek “the Commies want to bankrupt us!” How ironic when, in fact, our headlong dive into fiscal insolvency is entirely the GOP’s doing.

Sanders isn’t the only one with an agenda  for the Democratic House. According to the KL Gates (financial industry) Newsletter, Democratic priorities will include: reforms to ease financing of low income housing… "plus a focus on cybersecurity and FinTech, as well as a coordinated effort to stem President Trump’s regulatory relief plans, particularly with respect to the rulemaking and enforcement activities of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.”

Alas, there is a core problem with all of these ambitious aims… that even controlling the U.S. House of representatives, the Democrats cannot actually enact any of these things. Not even one of them, given an obstinately GOP-controlled Senate and a veto-wielding sillyperson in the White House.

So, let’s get practical, hm? 
What can be accomplished just by the House all by itself? 
Actions that it can do alone, that would have direct and immediate effects? 
Or at least score real political points?

== What the House can do, even by itself ==

Number one, of course, is investigations. No longer controlled by oligarchy-shills like California GOP Rep. Devin Nunes, House committees will go on a tear, issuing subpoenas, grilling witnesses and demanding answers. The whole nation is dialed in on this one. My chief concern is protecting the lives and independence of these men and women, who will be endangering everything Vladimir Putin worked for.

That much is obvious. But I'll talk more about subpoenas, soon, with a surprising proposal that would shake Washington to its roots.

Number two, revoke the 2001 War Powers Resolution. To the best of my knowledge, the votes that gave George W. Bush carte blanche, just after the 9/11 attacks, were not bills or "law." The House and Senate separately declared that it was the sense of the majority of the members not to oppose the president applying his powers as Commander in Chief, sending troops into violent action overseas.

This means that each chamber may withdraw its own resolution at any time! The House does not need Senate approval to declare that it is re-asserting the constitutional power of Congress over declarations of war.

It wouldn’t be easy for President Trump to oppose this in the originalist-oriented Supreme Court that he worked hard to create. Here is what James Madison, the central designer of the U.S. Constitution, said about having Congress, not President, make any decision to go to war: 

“War is in fact the true nurse of executive aggrandizement. In war, a physical force is to be created; and it is the executive will, which is to direct it. In war, the public treasures are to be unlocked; and it is the executive hand which is to dispense them. In war, the honours and emoluments of office are to be multiplied; and it is the executive patronage under which they are to be enjoyed. It is in war, finally, that laurels are to be gathered; and it is the executive brow they are to encircle. The strongest passions and most dangerous weaknesses of the human breast: ambition, avarice, vanity, the honourable or venial love of fame, are all in conspiracy against the desire and duty of peace.” (Helvidius no. 4) 
So much for "Founders' Intent"!
Nor will you likely see much demurral from senior members of the U.S. military officer corps, who are both devoutly constitutionalist and deeply skeptical of being ordered into impulsive quagmires, as happened under both Bushes. (You liberals out there desperately need to revise your stereotypes about the brave and highly intellectual men and women officers who are our bulwark, the third best-educated clade in modern American life. Indeed, their meticulous attention is probably what has -- till now -- prevented a contrived "event" from triggering the Stupidwar-with-Iran that Putin, the Saudis and Rupert Murdoch all fervently want.) 

The House of Representative could do this on the very first day of the 166th Congress. They should do it. They must.

Number three, restore the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment. Newt banished the highly respected OTA for the same reason Donald Trump refused (for the first time in 70 years) to appoint a White House Science Advisor -- because the neutral and non-partisan experts in OTA kept saying "that's not really true" to propaganda assertions pushed by an increasingly insane Republican political caste.  Hence, no action would more clearly demonstrate Democrats' fealty to fact-centered professions - from science to journalism to the Intelligence Community and Officer Corps -- than re-establishing the office. And I believe it can be done without Senate cooperation.

The new OTA should incorporate some of the design parameters I included in my FACT Act, using diversity and competitiveness to neutralize inevitable claims by Fox n' pals that it is a "ministry of truth," or even a biased arm of the Democratic Party. One element: invite every Congress member to appoint a scientist/statistician from his or her home district, to be both a personal aide and a co-supervisor of the new OTA. There are ways to scotch the spew from all the svengalis who thrive on lies. It can begin with OTA.

Number 4, get back to work. The last four Republican-led Congresses drastically reduced the amount of working days, times in session, committee hearings and every other aspect of working for citizens. And that's even including all the frippery-futile Clinton-Benghazi "investigations." 

The ratio of hours spent "fund-raising" or serving special interests vs. actual hours worked has skyrocketed. In fact, since 1997, GOP-run Congresses have been the laziest since before the Great Depression, except when it comes to passing "supply side" tax gifts to the aristocracy.

Democrats can and must make this clear to voters while dramatically changing House rules that allowed such travesty.

(The excuse: "I'm going home to spend time with my constituents" should only work if the representative actually puts in an 8-hour day meeting with folks at home from all parties and walks of life. And ever heard of Skype?)

Now we get to the most original suggestion -- a judo move that the new Democratic Majority in the House could do right away, without interference from the Senate or President, that could shock the nation and zap us partway out of partisan funk. 
But it would take guts and a truly long view.

Number 5, permanently empower individual members and the minority party. 

We all saw how Rep. Devin Nunes toadied to Donald Trump by refusing every request by Democratic members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to question pertinent witnesses. Way back in the first nine decades of the 20th Century, minority members of committees used to be treated with some respect and chairmen sometimes let them have investigatory powers. But not since Hastert. Not in this century. And sure, the GOP is girding itself to whine and moan - hypocritically - about being treated the same way they treated the dems... 

...unless, DP majority learns to perform political judo! Think! Someday, you'll be in the minority again! In fact, history suggests the DP will have this power only briefly. So, is there a reform Nancy Pelosi and the leadership might institute, that would change all this permanently? I know a way. 

Give each member of the House one subpoena per session, that she or he can impose on anyone, compelling two or more hours of testimony before a chosen committee! And give these member subpoenas priority over those issued by chairmen. 

Yes, this means Republicans would get almost two hundred subpoenas to use across the next two years. That's 400 hours of inconvenience, if they choose to use it that way (spread across many subcommittees). But will they? Or will each member jealously guard her subpoena, hoping to apply it in some way that looks effective to the folks back home? 

(If that's too many to be wieldy? Fine, let any three representatives combine (once) to issue a subpoena -- kind of like quarks. Surely 140 hours of testimony, spread across all the House committees, will be bearable, in order to ensure that the minority will never, ever-again, be prevented from focusing a spotlight where needed.)

Think about how Democrats would have loved to have this during their last 8 years in the wilderness! And how they may need it once again. Think about how this would push back against partisanship, by vesting power back in the members themselves, only some of whom are party attack dogs. Others? Well, encouraging individualism ain't such a bad thing. And setting the precedent means we'd never have congressional committees utterly whitewash, as we saw done by traitors like Nunes.

What's to stop the Republicans from abusing this power as minority party... then ending it when they regain majority? Again think it through:

It will look great that Democrats confidently and fairly ceded this sensible reform to the nation... and it would look bloody horrible if the republicans first USE it and then yank it back when they're in charge.

Would that necessarily stop them? Not by itself. But this is a long game we're in. And making dogmatic-horror partisan shills look bad is gonna be job #1 for the democrats, this term. Get used to that! Live with it. Use it. 

A combination: grant the subpoena privilege only to those House members with good attendance - office hours, committees and floor votes! Two birds, one stone. 

Number 6, draw lots for a DP "flattery squad." It is as distatseful as hell, but hear me out. We have a mentally unbalanced person in the White House, who reacts almost entirely out of reflex and not sapient thought. He must be opposed and neutralized. But for all our sakes, some adults need also to soothe this cranky toddler. I've suggested this elsewhere... and I'll explain in a coda, below.

That's it for things the House can do all alone. (You are welcome to suggest others below, in comments.)  And so, we come to actual proposed legislation. Bills that probably won't get by the Senate and Trump, but are guaranteed - nonetheless - to make them look truly awful

== These bills won't become law? Then draw in those vetoes! ==

We've just discussed actions Democrats in the House can perform without needing cooperation from the GOP-controlled Senate or the kindergarten White House. Next, they should offer up bill after bill, each offering some narrow, distinct and blatantly reasonable step toward sanity. 

Forget giant acts of legislation that will never get past the Senate and that give Foxites ammo, reinforcing confederate will to "resist wild socialism." Try those social engineering things first in California, Oregon and New York, etc. Your job in the 116th is narrower, so focus.

In the U.S. House of Representatives, you should concentrate on very basic justice. Trot out bill after bill that makes so much sense that some GOP senators might have to vote for some, or risk political suicide. And when Trump vetoes them, he will die by a thousand cuts! Here are examples:

- Limit expenditures on Presidential trips and Secret Service to just twice the annual rate spent on President Obama. And family members only get protection at home, not on personal business trips. If Trump squeals over that, follow by asking why?

- Quadruple the charges for use of Air Force One on political ventures.

- Require that presidential meetings with foreign leaders be recorded and include at least one interpreter vetted/approved by the FBI, CIA and the Council for Foreign Affairs. Require that the Secret Service detail include speakers of languages that might be used with the President.

- If a person claims that an IRS audit is in progress, allow the IRS to state publicly whether or not it’s true and whether full disclosure is likely to do harm. Allow the IRS to  narrow the scope of any investigation so that non-pertinent portions of a tax return may be released by the taxpayer without harm.

- Restore the Special Prosecutor Act.

- Make the job of White House Science Advisor one of several that will be filled automatically in a non-partisan way, offering the President a choice of a dozen proposed by the National Academy, and choosing one at random, if he fails to do so. Require two hours a month of face-to-face advising.

- Whistleblower protections! Especially a system to reward “henchmen” who tattle on truly terrible things. 

- Declare that any state enacting Voter ID or registration-limiting rules must appropriate funds to effectively help the poor, minorities, the young and elderly to get the needed ID, to comply with the new restrictions.  Instead of inveighing against voter ID laws in principle – a trap which makes it look as if Democrats want voter fraud, make it about compliance assistance - always demanded by businesses, when they face new regulations. Voter ID states must open more centers to help the poor, instead of maliciously closing DMV offices. It must be adequate to ensure voter participation by any group does not decline, or else that state is in violation of the 14th Amendment. 

- Pass a narrow DACA bill that puts any decent GOP Senator in a moral bind, forcing some of them to go along. But yes, draw that Trumpian veto.

- Transparency in political donations by elites. 

- End gerrymandering in the last few blue states - Illinois and Maryland - then pass an anti-gerrymandering bill in the House and dare vulnerable GOP senators to oppose it. When they do, change "GOP" to "POC" - Party of Cheaters.

- Actually "drain the swamp." Offer up reforms that limit revolving doors and K Street graft etc. Then dare the Senate not to go along.

- My FACT Act... Seriously. There's not one more important thing. Well, I do keep trying.

Each of these proposals is narrowly targeted to seem so fair and obvious that it ought to be non-partisan. Polemically, this was the root power of Gingrich's "Contract." Picture putting Republican senators in a position of opposing such things! And then justifying it.

== The "list" has only just begun! ==

I'll soon offer part 2 of this list of suggestions to the new House of Representatives. Next time we'll dive into pragmatic measures that might reform the Electoral College without an amendment!  Or spread the practice of rank choice voting, which would let those of you purists out there vote for your true love without screwing the nation, as you did in 2000 and 2016. And much more.

Some of you likely recall that I've done this before! And not one of the proposals I made in 2008 got even the slightest leverage, alas. (They are still good suggestions! We'd be better off now, if only...)

Today, I concentrated on things that even just one chamber might accomplish, as we bide our time till the real transformative election -- our Gettysburg in the foresight year, 2020. Meanwhile counting on our skilled officers and civil servants and a myriad decent citizens and allies to keep Western Civilization alive till then, against attacks -- covert and open -- by its enemies.

Till then, dear Congresswoman and Congressman, get used to the fact that the next two years will be frustrating. If your goal is to pass major bills on Health Care or Universal College or other major items on Bernie's "contract," good luck. Go ahead and shift that Overton "Expectations Window."

But meanwhile, today's list offers some highly targeted things that just might have real, pragmatic effects!

We are counting on you not just to be moral and right and decent and genuinely patriotic.  Please also be smart.



======= Coda re: the "Flattery Squad" ===

I've said it before. A dozen top level Democrats who are electorally safe and who have strong stomachs should announce that they are going to draw lots and/or pick straws. Never tell the press or public what it's for! But within days, two of the dems start making nice toward Donald Trump!

Not in any political way! It can be "I oppose the president's policy regarding "X"... but he is truly one handsome mofo." 

Or "Stop teasing his hair and his kids! Both are really good looking."

Hey, can it hurt? As an experiment? Especially since the whole nation will know what's going on? Fox will yammer about how obvious a ploy it is. Trump may even grin and say: "I know it's a ploy!" But then he'll add "At last a Democrat is saying the truth about me!" 

And he'll invite the flatterer to lunch. He won't be able to help it. A junkie is a junkie and this is his fix.

This would have been a great job for Al Franken, if far-liberals hadn't thoughtlessly and recklessly shot us in the face. Alas.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Dire warnings - and hope - from science fiction

Posting just before the U.S. Thanksgiving Holiday - my favorite - let's step back for some big perspective.

For starters: the Planetary Society proposes that space brings us together! So if you're expecting to gather with extended family on Thanksgiving, avoid politics. TPS offers conversation starters about space. Like Monday's Mars landing! Or the search for life out there. How to stop an Earth-aimed asteroid! The arrival of space tourism for the rich. Earth sensing finding the truth about the Arctic and... oops, some things do circle back to politics. Like our outward, exploring spirit. And facts.

You’ll enjoy and be edified by Eliot Peper’s passionate and fascinating interview with journalist and science fiction maven Annalee Newitz about her new novel “Autonomous,” which explores how intellectual property and dominant corporations might (if we’re not careful) lead to coercive oppression and quashed innovation in the future. It’s a vital topic. Both Intellectual Property (IP) trolls and corporate-rights fanatics have taken important enlightenment-pragmatic innovations and turned them into fundamentalist excuses for oligarchy. 

As fitting and proper in a dire-warning tale, Annalee portrays these trends getting worse in the future, with both organic and AI beings suffering effective slavery.

Today we see innovative creations thwarted or forbidden or hidden away — from screenplays to medicines to spare parts that would let you repair your own tractor. Generic drugs get unscrupulously blocked and rapacious giants like Monsanto persecute farmers for accidentally growing wind-blown seeds. This could all get much worse as synthetic agents like AI or blockchain programs start developing their own needs or else exist as wholly-owned sepoys of controlling corporations.

Warnings like Annalee's are apropos and needed. Still, I have yet to see any of the modern jeremiads against “IP-abuse” delve into why our enlightenment experiment created and fostered these things — patents, copyrights and corporations — in the first place. 

Yes, rapacious exploiters have found ways to use patents etc. against innovation and competition. But that masks the reason that copyrights and patents were created in the first place ... in order to foster those good things! (I have a chapter about this in The Transparent Society.)

Ponder the tragic comedy of errors called “human history.” Sure, most of the calamities were wrought by one thing -- stupid governance by feudalism . But there were some other dampers on freedom and progress. 

One was simple human self-interest. If you invented something – say a new plow or better glass – there was only one way for you and your children to profit from the new technology… if you kept it secret.

Consider how many techs we once had, then lost, across 6000 years. Clear glass. The Baghdad battery. Forceps. Damascus steel. Antekythera devices, suggesting there were geared clocks and sophisticated computer-calculators. The steam machinery of Heron of Alexandria. All vanished because someone died, or forgot the recipe, or some invading army killed the two sons who knew the secret.

Patents were designed to solve this by luring inventors and inventions out of the shadows, bribing innovators with a reliable income stream so they would feel an incentive to immediately share their breakthroughs, rather than hide them. And then the miracle would happen. Someone across town would swiftly make an improvement and patent that… and we were off. (See my posting: Considering Copyright - and Patents.)

Sure, over time, shyster lawyers found ways to twist the meaning of this reform in directions never intended, perverting it into a methodology for cheating, parasitism and innovation suppression. So? Please dig the real lesson. Cheating… will… always… happen. That kind of human will always be with us. And correcting such parasitic maneuvers is what politics is supposed to be for.

Which is why politics itself -- as a mature methodology for discussing problems and adults negotiating solutions – had to be killed, starting with the “Hastert Rule” and diving into Murdochism. Indeed, liberals aren't fault-free!  Because they let these perversions of the IP reform turn them away from remembering what IP was originally for. Instead of seeking to correct the perversions, the standard dogma is to toss it all. Both bathwater and baby.

None of which is said in order to turn you away from Automonous, by Annalee Newitz! Her thought experiment is excellent and insightful…

…as is a vivid novel by Karl Schroeder, soon to be offered for pre-sale: “Stealing Worlds,”  which portrays a tomorrow  fully as dark as Annalee’s, for many of the same reasons. It’s a hacker/cyberpunk novel set in a future dominated by dark corporations and even darker rogue algorithms, only with some twists informed by Karl’s expertise in the new world of blockchain coinage and contracts.

Yes, I differ with both authors over where we may be heading – I don’t deem their described failure-mode paths to be highly plausible. (How do you have ever-rising automated production of ever-cheaper and even home-printable goods coincide with massive, super-depression poverty, in which no one can afford to buy anything and revolution simmers around the corner, empowered by spectacularly democratized means of destruction

Such a future would have to entail mass bribery of the lower orders and quelling them with pleasure – Huxleyan rather than Orwellian despotism. There are several possible attractor states  -- many of them unattractive -that such a society may drift toward -- feudal fealty pyramids, revolution, intelligent-though-uncompassionate social contracts – but none of them plausibly combine vast-cheap production with simmering-resentful world-slums, as enticing as those seem for a fiction author.

Still, these are great reads! Moreover, it’s kinda flattering how both novels wind up delivering an ultimate plot resolution similar to the one I came up with, in EARTH (1989) -- a democratized transcendence that replies to the monolithic saviors offered earlier, by the likes of Asimov and Clarke!

Indeed, it is the sort of literal, plausible deus ex machine that might offer our best hope for a soft-landing, amid this ongoing good-and-bad singularity.

== Other explorations of SF ==

Here's as essay on "What is SF" by I guy I've long known. He tries to parse Science fiction as science fiction.

As you know, I prefer "Speculative History," since science does not have to be central to our stories, but change is.  (I've long believed fantasy is about static social structures - generally feudal/demigod - and SF is drawn to thought experiments about how things might be shaken into new forms.)

This essay is more focused, peeking at speculative fiction books set on single-gender planets. An interesting sampler that includes my Glory Season, tangentially. Of course there are many left out. The most important would be Philip Wylie’s 1950s novel The Disappearance in which women-only and men-only worlds both exist in parallel (as the title suggests, separation is sudden), and the overall lesson is surprisingly advanced for the era when it was written.  

The biggest sub-genre that is not alluded-to is the SF’nal world where one gender is so marginalized that it might as well be cattle. In that sub-genre, there are as many angry feminist authors as callously contemptuous male ones.  

== And more fecundity!  ==

Ray Kurzweil's first novel, Danielle: Chronicles of a Superheroine, tells the story of a remarkable girl who, with her super-intelligence and smart technologies, plus help from her friends — solves some of the world’s largest challenges: curing cancer, brokering peace in the middle east, and providing clean water to millions in Africa. And she does it all before her 16th birthday. 

2001: An Odyssey in Words: Celebrating the Centenary of Arthur C. Clarke’s Birth, is an anthology edited by Ian Whates and Tom Hunter, with fiction by Alastair Reynolds, Bruce Sterling, Neil Gaiman, China Mieville, Becky Chambers, Chris Beckett and others, with each story exactly 2001 words in length.

Unfit: a new sci fi magazine worth a look… they aim to explore some kinda surreal stuff… like my own “The Crystal Spheres.”

For a little optimism, and some online vividness, see Seat 14c, a  shared anthology sposored by ANA Airlines, in which one of their 2017 flights winds up in the year 2037. Fun from some of the best writers in the genre.

Here's a fun rundown of novels that play mind games with reality, in the spirit of the recent Nexflix show MANIAC.

And an interesting historical document. A 1964 Playboy interview with Asimov, Pohl, Anderson, Serling, Budrys, Clarke, Sturgeon, Blish, Heinlein… Dang they could and should have then included Judith Merrill, C.L. Moore, and Leigh Brackett, but still, kinda fascinating. Naturally, where they were on-target, you feel a sense of awe.  As you’ll wince at some myopia and failure to see what should have been obvious. And well, there's an unfortunate cartoon. But hey, we’ve made progress!

Children of Time – the sci-fi novel by author Adrian Tchaikovsky that won the Arthur Clarke Award, portrays what may be the last humans attempting to colonize a world already occupied by sapient spiders who had been uplifted by humans with good taste in ship names. And Lionsgate films is in pre-production. It could be great! (The novel sure is.) So here’s hoping.

And finally an important endeavor in civics education by the creator of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comix.  

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Political scandals and more

So, the U.S. midterms proved that the republic isn't dead yet, and has some gumption still. The most important elections many have been at the state level, where voters may have seized  back enough power to end many electoral cheats, like gerrymandering. Not in deep red states, of course, where citizens are fine with every kind of cheating. But democrats are realizing what Obama has preached -- that it's best to reform where possible, then let it dawn on every sane, reasonable and patriotic American that these are all Republican crimes.

It mustn't stop there. Over a few weeks, I’ll be offering my own proposals for how the transformed U.S. House of Representatives might act in important and effective ways, even without bills passing in the Senate or surviving presidential vetoes. 

One such endeavor – holding investigative hearings – is the talk of the nation. The prospect apparently has Donald Trump so depressed that he may go back to his one, reliable drug high, sanctimony rallies! (Why wouldn’t he? The taxpayer carries much of the expense.)

== Do this one the instant you are all sworn in ==

What is the number one priority I urge upon the new House of Representatives? 

Repeal the 2001 War Powers Resolution.

Passed in the panicky aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, separate resolutions in the House and Senate effectively abrogated the Congressional power over declaring war, giving the presidency carte blanche -- without even a time limit -- to order troops and attacks anywhere he chooses. 

By a simple majority in the House alone, that blank check can be canceled, with a coda stating clearly that Congress retains its Constitutional authority over declared and undeclared war. 

Moreover, given current circumstances in a dizzy-unstable White House, it would be irresponsible not to do this the very first day the new Congress opens session.

== States rights means letting some of them act sane ==

There are a number of hot-button topics on which states and the federal government don’t see eye to eye. Immigration, climate change, marijuana legalization, and health insurance are just a few. It’s no wonder that a July 2018 Gallup poll found that a record-high 77% of Americans believe the nation is divided. Even more shocking… a June 2018 Rasmussen poll showed 31% of Americans think a civil war will break out in the United States within the next five years.  

Given that Washington has been taken by dark forces, many states want more autonomy from the federal government. 

Now still just at the rumor stage, but: “Behind the scenes, 13 states are pushing through laws designed to undermine the federal government’s monopoly on issuing money…  Before President Lincoln banned the practice in 1863, states had issued more than 8,000 different types of money.  "The new currency would be digital, blockchain-based and grounded upon municipal bonds that offer real collateral. In other words, more secure than federal greenbacks."

== Killing one more advantage of the West ==

Elsewhere I pointed at one thing that helped the west to win the Cold War. Our adversaries had the advantages of a closed society, hampering information-gathering by our operatives, while theirs could roam the West openly. KGB spycraft was (and remains) often better than ours; we’ve learned the hard way how skilled they are. 

(I believe blackmail is the top method currently being used to suborn many of our leaders. There are dozens of reasons.)

One thing equalized intelligence gathering across the Cold War. Defectors. Frequently, we’d get spontaneous offers from highly placed adversary factotums, who supplied sudden waves of revelation, helping us survive. 

In return all we had to do was provide three things 
(1) safety, 
(2) decent prospects, and 
(3) the moral high ground.

Look at that list and see how all three have been targeted by Vladimir Putin’s New KGB, now in service not to an idealistic-if-mad socialism, but to a mafia oligarchy coated with a veneer of rabid-nationalism. 

Above all, VP wants it known that defectors to the west will be hunted down. The thuggish “we don’t care if you know we're doing it” blatancy of recent assassinations has been deliberate. 

“We will find you!” is the message.  

As for the moral high ground?  Well, Putin has one well-placed agent who is demolishing U.S. stature, almost single handed.

== Political scandals and more ==

Crum, has anyone tabulated sex scandals of politicians by political party? 

Start with divorce rates, that should be easy to do just from Wikipedia entries. Divorce used to be anathema among conservatives. Now, my back-of-the-envelope tracking suggests the rate is at least double among GOP politicians than Democratic ones. And an infinitely larger (literally) ratio between GOP vs DP presidents or presidential nominees. If this can be shown, it might sway some (alas, not most) “values voters.”

(Ah, irony. The party that once thought gambling to be immoral now is owned by casino moguls, and shrugs off signs of gambling addiction in its supreme court nominee. And there are many other reversals.)

Okay, to be fair let's now throw in regular, adult-consensual infidelity and things briefly seem a bit more even… certainly Bill Clinton was no role model, nor was Eliot Spitzer, or Mark Sanford, Gary Hart etc… though I’ll still bet on a GOP edge, since that much-higher divorce rate probably had cause. 

Indeed, a modifying factor ought to be whether the wife stays with him for a decade or more afterwards – isn’t she the best judge of redemption, after all? 

Further along the scale is kinky weirdostuff like Anthony Weiner -- obviously kinda sick  -- but that arguably didn’t damage anyone. Dems are probably competitive there! But hey, which party gets rid of its non-harmful weirdos?  Maybe too eagerly and stupidly, as in the case of Al Franken.

But where thing gets overwhelming is at the far end of the spectrum – the noxious, horrible pervert-predator end. There, the Grand Old Party appears to have a near monopoly, from Dennis Friend-to-Boys Hastert, a boy-buggerer who they made top Republican and Speaker of the House, whose “Hastert Rule” deliberately destroyed negotiation as an American political process, to Roy Moore and – well, you all know recent examples.

Only now –the very same day‼ -- there’s this fine fellow  

… and this one. Yipe! I’ve never seen anything like it. (To be clear, this one is not about sexual deviancy, that we know of. But… criminy. I mean click on this political ad!) Where is Ronan Farrow when we need him? He could get an assistant to tabulate this in a day and a half.

== Beware of the worst clichés ==

Check out Peter Singer’s upcoming book  LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media -- how social media has changed politics and war.

From Evonomics, another proved case where oligarchic assertions are diametrically opposite to true: “They Go Together: Freedom, Prosperity, and Big Government.” 

Demonstrablly and absolutely provably. Countries with larger government sectors tend to have more personal freedom. 

Yes, it is a religious principle among our rightist and libertarian friends that “government” civil servants are the proper and only target for their Suspicion of Authority reflexes. But in fact, Adam Smith – who is studied and admired more at the liberal Evonomics site than anywhere else – recommended civil servants and regulatory laws to even the playing field that was always – always – spoiled in the past by feudal lords and other cheating oligarchs.  It is no accident that the Greatest Generation of Americans set up many regs and services… and as a direct result, flat-fair-open entrepreneurial capitalism became more healthy than at any time in the history of our species.

== Finally, be wary of "splitters and our own loonies ==

You think the Putin-Fox-mafia war against the Western Enlightenment only aims to rile up the anti-fact mad-right? Intel-analyses show that at least 20% of Moscow originating troll incitements are aimed at sparking dogmatic rage on the left, and that is sure to rise now. 

A good share of the "splitter" memes surging across the web, pouring hate at "DLC sellouts" and "Republican-lite Clinton-moderates" is coming from Kremlin basements. THINK before you give in to these sanctimony highs. Are we the pragmatic, fact-loving reformers? Or what?

The aim of all this is to get us to repeat the mistakes of 93-94 and 2009-2010, when two years of frenzied concentration on healthcare led to 14 years and then 8 years in the wilderness, helpless to do anything about the mad-treasonous GOP's central agenda: cheating. The only way they could hold onto power. 

Think. What are the "moderates" asking for? For example, in Nancy Pelosi's top priority bill, HR1? To ignore health care and immigration reform and all that? Or simply to stop the cheating, first! The voter-suppression, the gerrymandering and dirty tricks and secret PAC money and incredible open war against every fact profession. If we get rid of those, won't it be easier for you to then move on to your other priorities? Seriously!

Which makes sense? Use our current big coalition to fight the Kremlin-Fox war against fact and reason from destroying U.S. democracy? Or immediately split the coalition, drive millions back into the GOP and repeat the utter failures of 1993-4 and 2009-10? Kremlin trolls want that! Again, at least 20% of the unattributed memes that you see, demanding leftist purity, come right out of a Moscow basement.

Look, I want many of the things you want! I want expanded Medicare moving toward single payer! I want DACA kids fully and swiftly citizened. I want consumer protections etc. But reform comes first! Because if we end the cheating the mad-right will collapse. End the gerrymandering and secret-money PACs and take measures to restore American respect for the fact-professions and actual facts! If we deliver that, then you will get many of the things you want via a forgotten thing called "politics."

Don’t let yourself be bullied by such loons. Adult calm and willingness to negotiate only exists in one party, now. Don’t let it be wrecked here, too. Which leads us to: The Perfect Rant about PC